Nintendo Feed

Nintendo Labo Harkens Back To Company's Toymaker Roots

Nintendo LaboNintendo has a new product that uses its popular Switch console as something of an accessory instead of the main attraction: Nintendo Labo, a series of cardboard sheets that assemble into toys and gizmos.  Think of them like Lego bricks for the engineering fan in all of us (but mainly kids).  Due out in April 2018 starting at a MSRP of $70, the Labo kits (dubbed Toy-Cons which is a delightful bit of wordplay on the Switch's Joy-Con controllers) fold and bend into real life working interactive toys such as a piano, a fishing rod, and a robot.  Slip the Joy-Cons into the assembled contraption, attach the Switch screen, and the fun begins.  Powered by Switch and the included game card, the Labo kits look to be the next big thing from Nintendo and a sign that we're moving into the second phase of the company's plan for Switch world domination.  Keza MacDonald at The Guardian breaks it all down.

Inside the Nintendo Labo box are 25 sheets of thick, brown, branded cardboard, and a little cartridge that pops into a Nintendo Switch console. Following Lego-like instructions on the Switch screen, you punch out the cardboard pieces and assemble them into contraptions of varying complexity. The first project, which takes maybe 15 minutes, is a simple little bug-like radio-controlled car; slot the Joy-Con controllers into its cardboard sides, pull up the controls on the Switch’s screen, and the vibrations send it juddering across a flat surface with surprising speed.

The more complex constructions are a telescopic fishing rod with a working reel, attached to a base with elastic bands and string for realistic tension; a cardboard model of a piano with springy keys; an abstract motorbike, with handles and a pedal; a little house. Each contraption is made out of cardboard and string, and transforms into a digitally augmented toy when you slot Joy-Con controllers and the Switch screen into it. The piano, especially, is quite amazing, and takes about two hours to build. The infrared camera on the Joy-Con controller can see reflective strips of tape on the back of the keys, which come into view when a key is pressed, telling the game software to play the right note. Cardboard dials and switches modify the tone and add effects to the sound.

Nintendo LaboThere's a lot to unpack here, but Labo is going to be big.  The idea reaches back to those third-party plastic Wii remote shells from the Wii Sports craze of 2006-2008 or so when people believed that snapping a tennis racket or a bowling ball toy on to a Wii remote would somehow make the game easier to play.  Instead of cheap overpriced plastic that adds nothing to the experience and was destined to collect dust on a shelf, Nintendo opted for cheap cardboard that can be easily mended when damaged and recycled at the end of its life.  Nintendo will also offer replacement cardboard if Labo parts are mutilated beyond repair, so there's no need to rebuy entire kits.  And yes, while on the surface the Labo kits look like a $70 box of cardboard, remember that the package includes the Switch game needed to make it all work (which itself includes interactive instructions to guide users on assembling the toys).  Given the proper promotion, Labo is going to be huge for the holidays with parents who want to give their kids a Nintendo product that educates (everything from basic principles of mechanics to the "some assembly required" experience of putting it all together) as well as entertains (be a robot!). 

 


Power Button - Episode 257: 2017's Biggest News Revisited

Power ButtonWe always take a look back at the previous year and close the books on it each January, so this week's Power Button podcast episode sees Blake Grundman and I joined by Ross Polly, our Special E3 Correspondent live from the Los Angeles Convention Center loading dock (we really should let him come home one of these days).  The three of us spend a supersized show talking about the big gaming news from 2017 including the rise of the Nintendo Switch, the end of the Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft Xbox One trying to change its image with more 4K & less Kinect, the continued rise of eSports in surprising places, loot box controversies, and much more.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way. Next Week: We wrap up 2017 with our annual Game Of The Year episode.


What Is The Origin Of Blue Mario?

Nintendo PowerThe inaugural issue of Nintendo Power magazine features an iconic cover of a clay Mario pursued by a clay Wart, but modern Mario fans can spot the error right away: Mario's colors are all wrong for 1988, particularly his blue hat.  Even in a time when Mario's color scheme was in flux (red and brown in Super Mario Bros., red and blue in Super Mario Bros. 2, etc.), how on earth did the cover's artist mix up Mario's hat color and swap famous red for unusual blue?  As part of a year-long series focused on the thirtieth anniversary of Super Mario Bros. 2, David Oxford at Poison Mushroom has seemingly figured it out.

Moving on, something people take notice of right away (aside from the use of cool clay models) is that Mario’s colors are very mixed up. At this point in time, he was typically presented with red overalls, a blue shirt, a red hat, white emblem with a red “M” on said hat, yellow buttons, and brown shoes. Meanwhile, his hair seemed to vary from picture to picture, being either black like his mustache, or brown. These days, they seem to be going with a dark brown for both, at least in 3D modeled assets.

Mario’s overalls and shirt would settle on blue and red respectively over time, but the rest was still off. One might guess that with Mario seemingly adopting a new color scheme with each new appearance that Nintendo hadn’t settled on anything firmly yet, but I don’t think anything has been firmly said on the matter to this day — merely speculated upon.

Mario Bros SpriteThat said, it turns out that the colors aren’t exactly wrong for Mario, they just more closely reflect an earlier game: The arcade version of Mario Bros., as seen at right. Though not a perfect match, it seems a more likely link that makes it easier to get an idea of where the cover artist might have been coming from.

Or someone just screwed up royally. We may never know, but some of the images used inside the issue itself would at least seem to imply it wasn’t solely the cover artist’s doing.

Mario has worn many costumes over the years and Super Mario Odyssey celebrates his most memorable.  Maybe a special "Blue Mario" Nintendo Power cover costume would be appropriate in a future update.


Power Button - Episode 256: Failure To Relaunch (Part 1)

Power ButtonI was overjoyed when Accolade returned from the grave in 2017 and announced a revival of everyone's favorite chatty bobcat, Bubsy.  Starring in the sequel/reboot Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back for the Sony PlayStation 4 and PC, Bubsy's big revival stumbled out of the gate which brought to mind other moribund franchises that came back and then left again just as quickly.  On this week's Power Button episode, Blake Grundman and I discuss the new Bubsy which leads us into some of our favorite and reviled video game reboots. Also, it's last call as our annual News of the Year and Game of the Year episodes are coming up and we want you to get in on the fun!   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


Power Button - Episode 255: The Mega Man 11 And Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection Cavalcade Of Capcom

Power ButtonCapcom is going all-in on new nostalgia with the announcements of Mega Man 11 and Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection due out in 2018 for all major current generation consoles (including Nintendo Switch) and PC.  On this week's podcast, Blake Grundman and I discuss the news and kick around our hopes and dreams for the new titles.  There's a lot of potential here and we're eager to see Capcom reach it. Looking ahead, our annual News of the Year and Game of the Year episodes are coming up and we want you to get in on the fun!   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


Super Mario: The Next Generation

Claire

For Thanksgiving this year my girlfriend and I had dinner with her family and, as part of the festivities, I was asked to bring my Super NES Classic console to the house so that her nieces, Talia (age six) and Claire (age three), could try a Super Mario game for the first time.  I took this as an honored responsibility.  When I was first introduced to Super Mario Bros. at the age of six, it was a life-changing event that rippled outward into the rest of my childhood and beyond into my adult years.  I owe my career to an early start with computers and video games, particularly games with Mario and friends.  Who knows what impact Super Mario could have on these children if I introduced the game correctly?  There's no telling what positive impact they could later have on society as a result of it.  I had to get this right.  The future was counting on it.

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Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection Announced

Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection2017 marks the thirtieth anniversary of Capcom's venerable Street Fighter franchise so it's only right that the publisher bundle up the most important games in the series for a new compilation.  Coming to the Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC in May 2018, get ready to revisit the original Street Fighter (not properly seen in many, many years), Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Street Fighter III, Street Fighter III: Second Impact, and Street Fighter III: Third Strike.  That's a lot of street fighting!  Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Street Fighter III: Third Strike will also include online multiplayer modes, leaderboards, and other fun online stuff.  Here's the announcement trailer.

This is far more a complete package than I'd have expected from Capcom.  It's developed by Digital Eclipse (who brought us the first Mega Man Legacy Collection and The Disney Afternoon Collection) so I'm already comfortable with their track record.  Expect plenty of fun museum inclusions.  Not included are all of the home port off-shoots of these games.  For instance, the Sony PlayStation Portable version of Street Fighter Alpha 3 was entitled Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX and included extra characters not seen in the arcade game, while the Game Boy Advance version was Street Fighter Alpha 3 Upper and featured different bonus characters.  The last special anniversary iteration of Street Fighter II, Hyper Street Fighter II for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, is missing in action, as is the HD incarnation Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.  Will any of that matter?  Probably not!  There's more than enough to play in this compilation, particularly for Switch owners.  Kinda makes that Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers launch window title seem redundant now.


Somebody Set Us Up Even More ROM Hacks

DuckTales 2

Back in August I brought your attention to John's Harris's book about ROM hacks, Somebody Set Us Up The ROM.  How Harris back with the sequel that dives into ingenious hacks from the worlds of Sonic the Hedgehog, The Legend of Zelda, and beyond as part of the Winter Wonderland Game Story Bundle on sale for the next two weeks.  If you missed the first installment, then you can pick it up as well in this bundle.  I had the pleasure of reading a pre-release copy and it's just as interesting and informative as the first volume.  Here's a taste:

It's Ducktales 2! Woo-hoo! Supporting two players simultaneously! Again I say, Woo-hoo!  I can't say that the game works flawlessly. You're going to have to make special allowances for two-player play. Player 2 is, entertainingly, represented by the hero of another Capcom Disney game, Darkwing Duck. His gas gun has been traded for another Pogo Cane (even if it doesn't look like he's pogo-ing). At least it gives the Terror that Flaps in the Night a second opportunity to spread his 8-bit wings.

Yet, there is still something unquestionably fun about this hack! It's just a blast running through the game with Darkwing tagging along, something which never happened in the cartoons. Maybe this is a bit of fan opinion sneaking in? Fun is a very subjective thing, heavily reliant on personal context. At least there's a chance that, for whatever reasons I find it to be fun, you might find it to be fun too. And there are places where it can be helpful to have a Player Two around, specifically during boss fights, where having two attackers participating can make fights easier than they'd be otherwise, provided that both of you are good at dodging attacks, that is.

That's right!  Someone melded Capcom's classic DuckTales sequel and Darkwing Duck for the Nintendo Entertainment System together into one glorious quack pack attack.  There's your real Disney Afternoon collection.  There's also a special section of the book devoted to fan translations of interesting and notable games that never left Japan in their original format such as Wrecking Crew '98 and Seiken Densetsu 3. It's another fascinating read and I recommend it.


Mega Man's Ten Greatest Moments

Mega Man

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the original Mega Man for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and so on this special occasion it's only right to take a look back at the ten greatest moments in the franchise's history. From the initial burst of releases in the early days of the series to its 16-bit and 32-bit reinventions to its unfortunate lull in the 2000s and then back in action with new sequels and compilations, there are many moments from which to choose and so many games to replay. While time does not permit spotlighting all of the best moments, there are some that demand attention.  Read on for everlasting peace!

10: Mega Man - Versus Yellow Devil


Mega Man

While later games in the series would refine what became a familiar formula, the original 1987 Mega Man game established the basic framework of what a Mega Man game would be, and while the game threw plenty of (sometimes unfair) challenges at players, those challenges were largely built around stage design or dealing with enemies roughly the same size as Mega Man himself or smaller.  That's why it's such a surprising shock when, in the first Dr. Wily stage, Mega Man enters what appears to be an empty boss arena (a gateless one, in fact; a first for the game).  As new intense music starts to play, a stream of flying fragments zip into the dead-end room one by one, catching players off guard, inflicting damage, and quickly forming the monstrous Yellow Devil (aka Rock Monster).  Today we know that a single bolt of the Thunder Beam and the game's infamous pause glitch will take out the Yellow Devil in seconds, but encountering this boss for the first time without warning or foreknowledge is a moment of breathtaking panic.

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Power Button - Episode 253: Super NES Classic Plays It Loud

Power ButtonWhile the Nintendo Switch is stealing the show in fandom circles, let us not overlook the Super NES Classic (assuming you can find one).  On this week's podcast episode, Blake Grundman and I discuss whether or not it's just like old times playing our favorite games from two decades ago, if Star Fox 2 holds up to the legend behind it, and cover what's going on in hacking circles as some players are cramming additional games into the console.  Join us for an hour of fun.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.